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Kentucky small business profile

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This SmalBusiness.com Local Project entry provides a overview of small business activities in Kentucky. You can find information about a wide array of small business resources in Kentucky at the Kentucky Hub.

In Kentucky, small businesses are vital to the financial well-being of the state’s economy. Their contribution is essential for economic growth since they make up almost all employer firms in the state. As entrepreneurs and innovators, small business owners represented a diverse group in 2004 and continued to keep the state’s economy productive. The Small Business Profile provides information on the performance of small businesses in the state using the most current federal data available. This Small Business Profile was prepared by the U.S. Small Business Administration and provides information on the performance of small businesses in the state using the most current federal data available.

Number of Businesses

There were an estimated 317,115 small businesses in Kentucky in 2004. Of the 83,046 firms with employees, an estimated 97 percent, or 80,595, were small firms. In 2004, the estimated number of employer businesses increased by 2 percent. The number of self-employed persons (including incorporated) increased overall by 4.4 percent, from 171,741 in 2003 to 179,264 in 2004. Non-employer businesses numbered 236,520 in 2002, an increase of 2.8 percent since 2001, based on the most recent data available.
(Sources: U.S. Dept. of Labor, Employment and Training Administration; U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Census Bureau; U.S. Dept of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.)

Women-Owned Businesses

In 2002 women-owned firms totaled 77,232, an increase of 17 percent from 1997, and generated $9.5 billion in revenues. Firms owned jointly by women and men numbered 39,343 with revenues of $8.2 billion. Women represented 31.4 percent of the self-employed persons in the state.
(Sources: U.S. Dept. of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics; U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Census Bureau.)

Minority-Owned Businesses

In 2002, Hispanic-owned firms numbered 2,082, an increase of 41 percent from 1997. Black-owned firms numbered 7,595, an increase of 35 percent; Asian-owned firms numbered 3,243, an increase of 29 percent; American Indian and Alaska Native-owned firms numbered 1,324, a decrease of 57 percent; and the number of Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander-owned businesses was unavailable.
(Source: U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Census Bureau.)

Business Turnover

There were an estimated 8,807 new employer businesses in 2004, 8 percent more than the previous year. Business terminations numbered 8,597 in 2004, a decrease of 20.4 percent. Business bankruptcies decreased by 2.4 percent and totaled 319 in 2004.
(Sources: U.S. Dept. of Labor, Employment and Training Administration; Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts; U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Census Bureau.)


Small firms with fewer than 500 employees numbered 69,753 in 2002 and employed 734,027 individuals, or 50.2 percent of the state’s non-farm private sector. Net job gains among firms with fewer than 20 employees totaled 5,545, while large firms with 500 or more employees lost 22,461 jobs between 2001 and 2002.
(Source: U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Census Bureau, Statistics of U.S. Businesses.)

Small Business Income

Non-farm proprietors’ income, a partial measure of small business income, increased by 8.4 percent, from $7.4 billion in 2002 to $8 billion in 2003.
(Source: U.S. Dept. of Commerce.)


Commercial bank lenders are an important source of small business loans, and small firms usually rely on them for financing. Over the last 10 years the number of banks in Kentucky has declined. The Office of Advocacy has identified banks in each state that make the most loans to small businesses. This information is available in its banking studies at http://www.sba.gov/advo/research/lending.html.

See also